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Telecom Company Being Investigated For Information Breach

The Attorney General’s office began investigating TerraCom after customers' private information was allegedly published online.

phone

Photo: Stephanie Keeney (flickr)

The federal Lifeline program gives phones to low-income individuals in case of emergencies.

The Indiana Attorney General’s office says there are still a lot of unanswered questions in its investigation of the potential privacy breach of thousands of low-income Hoosiers. The Attorney General’s office updated lawmakers Monday on a nearly five-month long investigation of telecommunications company TerraCom Incorporated.

TerraCom provides telephones to low-income Hoosiers through the federal Lifeline program, established under the Reagan Administration as a way to ensure those at or below the poverty line have access to a phone for emergencies and employment.

The Attorney General’s office began investigating TerraCom after a national media outlet contacted both the company and the state, claiming it had been able to access the private information of TerraCom customers through a simple web search.

Indiana Consumer Affairs Division Deputy Director Terry Tolliver says the company may have violated state law regarding notification of potentially affected customers.

“Most fraud occurs within the first seven days of the personal information being obtained and our concern is that the consumers whose information has been released may not be aware of that and may not know that they’re a victim of fraud.”

Tolliver says a lot of the information the state has obtained has come from the media outlet that first uncovered the breach and not TerraCom. He says the company is taking what he calls a “cautious” approach to revealing any information.

Tolliver would not give a timetable for when the state might complete its investigation.

Brandon Smith, IPBS

Brandon Smith, IPBS has previously worked as a reporter and anchor for KBIA Radio in Columbia, MO, and at WSPY Radio in Plano, IL as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.

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